Social features

Hello!

Google Summer of Code 2020 is over, so we’re winding down the user statistics project. However, given that I’ve had a lot of friends join LB because of the statistics, I’m interested in developing some social features to connect with friends on LB easier.

A few things I was thinking of were along these lines:

  • Allow people to follow each other.
  • Allow people to recommend songs / albums to their followers
  • Create playlists out of the songs that the people you’re following are listening to.
  • Integrate with CritiqueBrainz, let people review stuff they’re listening to and show the reviews to your followers.
  • User similarity scores
  • Groups

I’m interested in gauging your interest in features like these, or if there’s anything similar that you’d like to see in LB.

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These are all great ideas, especially the CritiqueBrainz integration. Following is obviously a must-have. Also Last.fm used to have groups and it’s something many of their users still dearly miss.

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Great to see that you’re thinking of adding stuff like that!

The integration with CritiqueBrainz and user similarity scores are things that I would definitely use if they were implemented.

What exactly do you mean by “Groups”?

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I’d love to see LB integrate with ActivityPub, for example so users could send messages to each other.

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Would love to see a “Feed” page that is an active feed of what your friends are listening to. Perhaps with call-outs to an artist or album a friend is listening to a lot, or something they haven’t listened to in a while, etc. ie. give me a social feed that provides useful information about my friend’s listening habits so that I can then use that as a way of discovering new music. Rdio’s old home page/activity tab used to do this really well and it’s the one thing that really is missing in music services these days - that social layer to help you discover new music.

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I don’t use ListenBrainz.
But anytime I see the word “social”, I am hesitant to support.

From experience, I can firmly state, that once a site starts adding social features, the site and its users start to gravitate towards the “facebook experience”, with more and more social features, until eventually there is no actual content just social interactions.

So, whatever your proposal is - tread lightly.
Databases of information don’t need social media features… they need content.

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There are lots of benefits to adding ‘social’ functionality that shouldn’t be dismissed because the term ‘social media’ now has some bad connotations. A lot of the really interesting use-case scenarios for something like ListenBrainz involve calculating/comparing multiple users data already - for instance recommending a song that you might like, that you’ve never heard before, would not work without the system identifying similar users. Listening stats are super interesting to see. No harm in bringing it all up front imo.

Integrating something like this could also eventually cross over to MusicBrainz? For instance if a release is given a group automatically, that group could perhaps be accessed from both ‘sides’ (MB/LB)?

I’ve always been interested in this kind of chat system because informal chat is often where the really interesting/hard to find info resides (and the junk, no doubt…). It would also be a huge boost to MB’s SEO/Google findability.

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  1. For me, this isn’t a new revelation. I have always questioned social media.
  2. What you and I are doing right now… Being social. I am ok with this. This is not the same as some of the other stuff. Which is why I said to ‘tread lightly’. This has a purpose. But the minute we start adding likes and comments…

One of the open federated social media protocols would be great.
The questions is are we the social network or do we make it easy to post?
One way of doing this is to implement ActivityPub and become an instance but that would take a lot of work.
The much easier option would be to act as a client and make it easy for someone to post to a mastodon instance.

Listenbrainz could potentially support multiple social networks and make it easy to compose a tweet, a facebook post, a mastodon toot etc.

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Add listenbrainz pages for artists and recordings based on musicbrainz data.

Add a Recording page using the musicbrainz id using the normal url schema for example
https://listenbrainz.org/recording/1a61223e-aa82-4019-9f7f-a1360cf9198c

  • Display information about the recording, artists, related works.
  • Links to wikipedia if there is an article about the recording (for singles) (recording > work > wikidata > article in your language).
  • Links to play the song, spotify, youtube, soundcloud.
  • Links to buy the song, itunes, amazon, 7digital (set up custom store? afiliate links?)
  • Information about who played this in the last month, who have loved this track etc.
  • Add this song to a playlist
  • Tweet, facebook post, mastodon toot! about why you like this recording and include a link back to listenbrainz.

Artist page:

  • Display information from musicbrainz.
  • Information from wikipedia
  • Links to social network
    • Display the last 5 tweets?
    • Have they recently added something to soundcloud?
  • Follow artist
    • Add artist to musicbrainz collection of artists
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I definitely agree that too much of this stuff can be bad. However, my opinion right now is that if X is the ideal number of social features that ListenBrainz could provide which users would find genuinely useful, the value of X is definitely not zero. Currently, we have no real social features and I think it would help users discover new music.

Maybe instead of calling this thread “social features”, I should have said music discoverability features instead, because in their essence, things like feeds or groups in LB will be helpful for music discoverability.

But thank you for the advice! I agree we need to walk the line well, but I think LB is in a better place to walk it well than other platforms which have misaligned incentives.

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This is in our list of things we want to do, but it has a strong dependency on a strong mapping between listens and MusicBrainz IDs first. We’ve been working on it, but I don’t think this is gonna happen in the next few months at least.

Thank you! I think these two and the feeds are the first few things that I’ll try to build out. Would love more details on how you envision using these features.

I haven’t given it much thought, but essentially, this would be something like Groups on facebook or last.fm of old. You could join an “india” group if you wanted to discover people who like Indian music, in turn leading you to new Indian music.

For me these 3 things are the core of social features for this service. I always had fun with last.fm seeing what friends have been listening to. What I don’t need is any discussion or commenting feature, there are other ways for that.

Btw, there is a “Follow” feature on LB right now, but I totally fail to understand what it is doing or how to use the UI. I either don’t get it or this is totally broken.

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Following up, I wrote a project brief: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/5ckz83v6goguorpf9uh6p/-[Project-Brief]-Music-Discovery.paper?dl=0&rlkey=tn38zj49f23ktu1b0lbtndu5n

@rob had general thoughts on all this that he noted down here: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/6p983hi7wwt0aceiua6or/Thoughts-on-social-features.paper?dl=0&rlkey=dqnlhmbk8091khaw96mjynnbn

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Yeah, that was the product of a hackathon weekend that never really got much love after that. It’ll get deprecated in favor of something more user-friendly soon.

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As an avid RYM user, I can say that the best ‘social’ features over there are:

  • Reviews
  • Lists
  • Shoutboxes on releases (these are more of a mixed bag)

I’ve used Last.fm since 2007 and frankly being able to follow people is fine but it has never really served to add much to my experience. Everyone scrobbles everything they listen to and it doesn’t tell me if it is worth listening to or not. It’s the aggregate of that data that contains the more interesting insights.

Not really ‘social’ but it would be great if there was a way for me to see missing data in the Musicbrainz database for my top artists/albums as I would be well placed to contribute on those.

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I wish somehow that my library updates quickly. I transferred all my 355000 scrobbles from lastfm and still show the former data (that i deleted to import it again). I hope it will be all there somehow